M44 CYANIDE, JUST HOW DANGEROUS IS IT?

http://www.abcfoxmontana.com/story/34977973/m44-cyanide-just-how-dangerous-is-it

Posted: Mar 22, 2017 8:14 PM PDTUpdated: Mar 22, 2017 8:14 PM PDT

M44 cyanide, just how dangerous is it?
BOZEMAN –It’s a tool often used by Montana ranchers to kill livestock predators, but now, an Oregon congressman wants to ban the use of cyanide traps nationwide.

The M44 cyanide trap has been used by the United States government to control pests since the 1930’s. Montana is one of the few states in the country where ranchers, after being certified, can plant their own devices.

But many are questioning the safety and efficacy of the device. The incident in Idaho is not the first time an M44 has injured or killed the wrong target.

According to the USDA, Wildlife Services is authorized to use M44 cyanide capsules to control coyotes, Wild dogs, and red, gray and arctic foxes which are: suspected of preying upon livestock, poultry, or federally designated threatened and endangered species.

However, Brooks Fahy Executive Director of Predator Defense says thousands of animals die from this cyanide poison every year and just in the past week three dogs have died.

Fahy says, “The vast majority of the animals that they are killing like 99.9 percent of the animals they kill have never prayed on livestock.”

The USDA released a statement about the incident that happened a week ago with the boy and dog in Idaho saying, “We take this possible exposure to sodium cyanide seriously and are conducting a thorough review of this incident.  Wildlife services have removed m-44s in that immediate area, and will work to review our operating procedures to determine whether improvements can be made to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences happening in the future.”

Fahy says there are other options trappers can use other than “cyanide bombs.”

“Practice co-existence in other words proper husbandry practices when your sheep are lambing, guard dogs, fencing, and flattery.”

Jarrod Moss, a vet at Creekside Veterinary Hospital here in Bozeman says if your animal comes in contact with cyanide get them to vet as soon as possible and also make sure you protect yourself in the process.

Brooks says, “Humans are at severe risk of absorbing some of that cyanide through their skin so we need to be very careful when handling your animal, I would recommend wrapping your dog or cat in a towel or shirt, limiting your exposure.”

Fahy recalls an incident involving a man in Utah when he came in contact with the poison.

“Who had an M44 go off in his face and hit him in his chest and he got some of it in his face. He’s been disabled ever since, never able to go back to work.”

USDA says that all applicators are required to carry an antidote kit when applying or inspecting M44s and no human fatalities have been associated with wild services use of M44s.

The bill being put forth by Congressman Defazio is set to for a vote next week. We’ll continue to follow that bill as it progresses.

Pet-killing “Cyanide Bomb” Placed Illegally by Wildlife Services

Agency Promised Public in 2016 that it would stop placing them on Public Lands

BOISE, Ida. — The cyanide bomb that recently killed a family dog in Pocatello, Idaho and poisoned his 14-year-old owner violated government assurances that such poison devices would no longer be used to kill predators on federal public lands in Idaho. A 2016 decision by multiple agencies banned the use of these devices, known as “M-44s,” on all federal land in the state.

“The Bannock County sheriff’s department verified by phone with us today that GPS coordinates for the M-44 involved in the incident place the device on Bureau of Land Management land, despite a decision banning the use of these devices on federal public lands,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “It never should have been there at all.”

A plan for killing predators in Idaho on behalf of the ranching industry was signed late last year by the State, federal government, and Native American tribes, all agreeing to discontinue the use of the explosive cyanide devices on public lands. This poison and other toxins, originally banned during the Nixon administration but subsequently reinstated, had been authorized under a national plan that was decades old. Western Watersheds Project and other environmental groups successfully argued that the use of these chemicals for predator control should be reconsidered, which led to Wildlife Services’ decision to reduce their use.

“M-44s and other traps and toxic chemicals that Wildlife Services uses to kill predators are a public safety hazard,” said Talasi Brooks of Advocates for the West.  “If Wildlife Services is putting these devices in places where people recreate or walk their dogs, the public deserves to know about it.”

On other land ownerships, Wildlife Services continues to use cyanide and other poisons at the request of farmers and ranchers to reduce livestock losses. However, these devices are not selective and kill a wide variety of non-target wildlife. Rare species such as lynx, wolverines, and bald eagles, are killed every year. Tragically, the annual list of unintended targets also includes family pets.

“The incredibly dangerous devices kill indiscriminately, and deaths of pets are common,” said Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense. “Unless there are witnesses agencies often don’t record the poisonings. Families are than left to wonder what happened to their dog.”

Last year, agencies spent $99 million in taxpayer dollars to kill 2,744,010 black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, birds, wolves, and other native wildlife species. Almost 77,000 of these animals were coyotes.  Of these, 16% were poisoned by M-44s. There is evidence, however, that killing predators only reduces their numbers temporarily and, in the case of coyotes, may even encourage higher rates of reproduction and dispersal. Non-lethal methods of predator control such as guard animals, loud noises, bright flashing lights, and fencing, may be more successful without the problems associated with lethal control.

“Federal agencies need to stop planting poison land-mines that endanger the public, and asking society to accept cruel and inhumane slaughter of native wildlife simply to subsidize a dwindling livestock industry,” Molvar concluded.

Advocates for the West is a nonprofit environmental law firm that uses law and science to restore streams and watersheds, protect public lands and wildlife, and ensure sustainable communities throughout the American West.

Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit environmental group dedicated to protecting and restoring western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy.

Predator Defense is a nonprofit advocacy group working to protect native predators and end America’s war on wildlife.

AN IDAHO BOY ALMOST BECOMES A CASUALTY OF THE WESTERN WAR WAGED ON PREDATORS.

http://planetjh.com/2017/03/21/the-new-west-the-real-prey/

 

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Most readers here have probably never heard of the notorious “M-44.” It’s not a gun, but rather a different kind of weapon deployed by the U.S. government in its century-old campaign still being waged against wildlife predators.

Verbatim, this is how the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s predator-killing bureau, Wildlife Services, describes the function of M-44s: “The M-44 device is triggered when a canid (i.e. coyote or wild dog) tugs on the baited capsule holder, releasing the plunger and ejecting sodium cyanide powder into the animal’s mouth. The sodium cyanide quickly reacts with moisture in the animal’s mouth, releasing hydrogen cyanide gas. Unconsciousness, followed by death, is very quick, normally within 1 to 5 minutes after the device is triggered. Animals killed by sodium cyanide appear to show no overt signs of distress or pain.”

Repeat that last line again, italics placed here for emphasis: “Animals killed by sodium cyanide appear to show no overt signs of distress or pain.

Should that give us solace?

Only days ago, as 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield was playing with his beloved Labrador friend, Casey, in the hills above Pocatello, Idaho, both teenage boy and dog stumbled unsuspectingly upon an M-44-like device that later was described as detonation of a “cyanide bomb.” The encounter killed the family pet that came in contact with cyanide and left Canyon’s clothing covered with chemical residue, prompting the local sheriff to declare him “lucky to be alive.”

Of course, the boys ‘parents are rightfully outraged. Other recent tragic incidents involving M-44s and pets in Wyoming, plus a wolf killed by an M-44 this February in Oregon, and a longer list of additional events that the government calls unfortunate accidents, are refueling public anger over M-44s, prompting Congressman Peter DeFazio-D, Oregon, to renew his push for a total ban.

While Wildlife Services and its cooperating local and state collaborators tout the lethal efficacy of poisoning to death intended prime targets—especially coyotes given that we are now again in the middle of another domestic sheep lambing season in the West—the dangers of M-44s are undeniable, critics say.

Namely, M-44s are menacingly super toxic and non-discriminating; in many cases needlessly used, especially on public land; and hazardous to the health of humans and pets.

Most of all, noted Brooks Fahy, a founder of the organization, Predator Defense, and a national leader in pushing to have M-44s outlawed, their deployment “reflects an archaic mindset carried forward by a federal agency out of touch with 21st century values,” he said.

A few years ago, Predator Defense produced a documentary Exposed: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife (viewable free on YouTube), that won a number of awards and even drew praise from legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

“What we desperately need is serious, objective, and transparent oversight of Wildlife Services by Congress but we haven’t had it because of Republican resistance to scrutiny of the agency’s tactics, especially from lawmakers in the rural West,” Fahy asserted. “They don’t want to know the truth; they don’t want their constituents to know the truth. They’re invested in promoting baseless propaganda which reinforces negative generalizations about predators that are just not factual.”

As numerous studies note, predator control may indeed be a culturally engrained tradition in rural corners of the West, but its rationale does not always align with the conclusions of science.  In some places, costly intervention by Wildlife Services has actually made predator conflicts worse and they’ve resulted in the killing of non-target species. In addition, as research makes clear, predators—including wolves, cougars, bears and coyotes—are actually important in helping to slow the spread of diseases in wildlife, such as Chronic Wasting Disease, because predators target sick animals.

Although Wildlife Services insists that M-44s are safe and subject to 26 different “use restrictions” mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (note: some Western federal lawmakers are now working to gut EPA’s role as a regulatory agency), Fahy says the agency and, in particular, state partners and private contractors have checkered records as noted in his film mentioned above.

On the official USDA website, it states that “Wildlife Services personnel place M-44s along game and livestock trails, ridges, fence lines, seldom-used ranch roads, coyote and fox natural travel ways, rendezvous sites, and territorial marking sites/locations. Trained personnel inspect each M-44 at least weekly. Used mostly in the winter and spring, M-44s may be used year-round in some locations. When not in use, they are stored in secured, locked locations.”(Read more: aphis.usda.gov/publications/wildlife_damage/content/printable_version/fs_m44_device.pdf)

Fahy notes the irony that M-44s are “stored in secured, locked locations,” yet as the Mansfield incident points out, they were sloppily deployed in a location that nearly cost a teenager his life.

There are instances, Fahy acknowledged, where depredation of livestock, particularly on private land, can be a problem that must be resolved through lethal removal. But he and others argue that many conflicts on public land can be better resolved through more conscientious sheep and cattle management, vigilant deployment of non-lethal deterrents such as guard dogs, range riders and fladry, especially during calving and lambing seasons, and acknowledgment that the publicly-subsidized grazing of private livestock on public lands is a privilege.

Predator Defense is among several organizations pushing to reform how Wildlife Services does business. Together, they have also sought tighter restrictions on trapping to reduce the number of pets caught in legholds and conibears near towns and reducing the killing of non-target species such as imperiled wolverines and lynx.

“With M-44s, it’s kind of like allowing a person with a loaded Glock to put a gun down on a picnic table in a public park along with a sign that reads, ‘Dangerous, do not touch.’ What would we be thinking if government agencies allowed that to happen?” Fahy said. “M-44s are more dangerous than a gun. You breathe some of this stuff in, and you’re dead.” PJH

Todd Wilkinson has been writing his award-winning New West column for nearly 30 years. It appears weekly in Planet Jackson Hole. He is author of the recent award-winning book, Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek, An Intimate Portrait of 399, the Most Famous Grizzly of Greater Yellowstone only available at mangelsen.com/grizzly.

Family’s Dog Was Just Killed By This Tool — And The U.S. Government Put It There

https://www.thedodo.com/usda-m44-kills-idaho-dog-2322197701.html

“It took my dog’s life — and it could have taken my son’s.”

A boy and his dog, Casey, were taking a walk near their home in Pocatello, Idaho, on March 16 when the unthinkable happened.

The boy, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield, noticed something sticking about half a foot out of the ground. When he touched it, there was a pop and a “siss” and orange powder shot out.

Canyon jumped back in shock. When he looked for his loyal dog, Casey, he saw him on the ground.

Casey, a 3-year-old dog who was killed by a cyanide device set out by the USDATheresa Mansfield

“He just stayed on the ground mumbling,” Canyon told the Iowa State Journal. “I thought he was playing with his toy, but I saw the toy a couple yards away from him … So, I called him again and got really scared.”

Canyon rushed toward him and held him, seeing something was terribly wrong. “[I] saw this red froth coming from his mouth and his eyes turning glassy,” he said.

He ran down the hill for help and, when he and his parents returned a few minutes later, Casey was dead.

Later the family would discover that their 3-year-old dog had been poisoned by an M44, a cyanide trap that is set out by the U.S. government to kill coyotes, luring them through scented bait.

“M44s are incredibly dangerous by nature of what they are,” Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, a nonprofit based in Eugene, Oregon, told The Dodo. “They put a scent lurer — like urine from a coyote in her heat cycle or another smell that makes the animal want to grasp the M44 head — and any coyotes, wolves, are attracted to it. They pull on it and that’s when it goes off.”

Casey and Canyon Mansfield were best friends.Theresa Mansfield

“With children and people — they are curious,” Fahy cautioned. “It’s like putting a loaded handgun on a table.”

Casey is among the latest victims of the thousands of animals unintentionally killed by Wildlife Services, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that kills millions of wild animals each year to make more room for human industries like raising livestock. Over 3,400 animals were mistakenly killed by M44s between 2006 and 2012, including black bears, bobcats, raccoons, opossums, ravens and foxes, as well as dogs — and that’s just what the agency has reported. Fahy suspects the actual number is even higher.

Cyanide poisoning strangles cells, making it impossible for them to absorb oxygen, essentially suffocating any animal — intended or unintended — to death.

There was little time to grieve Casey at the moment he died — Canyon had to save his own life. His father, a physician, and his mother had him take off his clothes, which were covered in orange powder. He was rushed to the emergency room for tests. Thankfully, the family believes Canyon was upwind from the poison powder. He’s alive, but he’s traumatized.

“My son Canyon, who witnessed it all, is really struggling with what happened,” Theresa Mansfield told The Dodo. “It was above our house. It makes me not feel safe. I feel like I had terrorism in my own backyard, with my own government.”

The spot where the M44 was planted and where Canyon would often take Casey for walksTheresa Mansfield

The Mansfield family had no idea the devices where there, just about 350 yards from their home, at the edge of their property line. And they weren’t the only ones — even the county sheriff didn’t have knowledge of these devices, or just how dangerous they are. The Mansfields say there also weren’t even any warning signs and they were never notified about the presence of the M44s. It was later reported that two M44s, including the one that killed Casey, were planted in this area near the Mansfield’s house on February 25.

“APHIS’ Wildlife Services confirms the unintentional lethal take of a dog in Idaho,” a spokesperson for the USDA said in a statement last week. “As a program made up of individual employees many of whom are pet owners, Wildlife Services understands the close bonds between people and their pets and sincerely regrets such losses.”

The agency claims it has removed the other M44s in “that immediate area,” while conducting a review of the incident.

When The Dodo asked whether the USDA would issue an apology to the family, a spokesperson replied: “We are concerned about the individual who may have been exposed to sodium cyanide when his dog activated the M44 device. Initial reports indicated he was examined at a local hospital and released with no symptoms, and we are hopeful those reports are true. We will consider this possible exposure very seriously as we conduct a thorough review of this incident.”

“It’s something so close to my house, and it took my dog’s life,” Theresa said. “And it could have taken my son’s.” Now Theresa is hoping that their story will help make the M44s illegal. “It’s a brutal way of killing something.”

The M44 device that killed CaseyTheresa Mansfield

While the Mansfield family has only just learned, in the hardest way, about these devices, some people have been fighting to ban M44s for years. And a mere investigation into this latest incident simply isn’t sufficient, they say.

“This is another demonstration of what we’ve been saying for decades — the dangers of M44s are essentially landmines waiting to go off for a dog, endangered species or a child,” Fahy said. He estimates that hundreds, even thousands, of dogs have been killed by these devices. “This happens all the time.”

U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced a bill in the past seeking to make these devices illegal — and it’s expected, given the recent slew of accidental deaths, that he’ll keep trying. “I have been trying to ban the indiscriminate use of devices like the M44 for decades,” DeFazio said in a statement recently. “The use of this device by Wildlife Services … has previously killed domestic dogs, and sooner or later, will kill a child.”

An old photo of Casey leaning in for a hug from his favorite boyTheresa Mansfield

While the USDA claims that a dog dying from an M44 is a relatively rare occurrence — the last time an animal in Idaho died from an M44 accidentally was in 2014 — there’s doubt that the supposed benefits outweigh the risks, especially since killing predators to control populations doesn’t necessarily even work.

“M44s are a terrible device for killing coyotes by cyanide poisoning, which is a nasty and sickening way to die,” Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Dodo recently, after a rare wolf in Oregon was killed by the device. “They should be banned both because they are indiscriminate, killing this wolf as well as often pets and animals, and because killing coyotes in this and other manners is totally ineffective.”

Last year alone, Wildlife Services intentionally killed 76,859 coyotes; 12,511 were killed by M44s. That’s an average of 34 M44s intentionally exploding per day. At least seven pets or livestock were killed by M44s last year, though the USDA doesn’t specify what kinds of animals they were. Twenty-two dogs the agency claims were “feral, free-ranging and hybrids” were also killed.

Another example of what an M44 planted in the ground looks likePredator DefenseJust days before Casey was killed, two other pet dogs were also killed by an M44 in Wyoming on March 11, though the USDA claims this was not one of their own devices. In either case, Fahey says the tools should be banned. “Bottom line, this device needs to go — immediately,” Fahy said.

Until the device is banned, others remain at risk, and the Mansfield family is trying to cope with their loss any way they can. The clothing Canyon was wearing when the M44 exploded is still in a bag outside their house, a constant reminder.

“We’re not coping very well. We’ve been really sad,” Theresa said, adding that she blames the USDA for not taking full responsibility for just how dangerous M44s essentially are. “I feel like they don’t care about that it’s a bomb and they’re probably worried about being in trouble, but they’re not willing to change that these things are bombs. They could hurt kids and little dogs. And there’s no explanation. That’s the thing that’s hard.”

Predator Defense“Our Casey was so important,” Theresa said. “He was everyone’s dog, he was my little boy’s best friend, my daughter’s running buddy.”

“I think in a way, you just feel violated,” she added. “We didn’t even know anything like that existed.”

Casey and Canyon’s dad. The dog was well-loved by the whole Mansfield family.Theresa Mansfield

To help protect pets and wildlife from these poisonous tools, you can contact your representatives to support legislation to ban these devices. You can also donate to Predator Defense.

USDACorrection: This article has been updated to reflect that bait on M44s can be many different attractants, not just the urine mixture.

USDA must rethink cyanide bombs that injured boy, killed pets, lawmaker says

This photo shows the M-44 that killed the Mansfield family's 3-year-old dog in Pocatello, Idaho.

This photo shows the M-44 that killed the Mansfield family’s 3-year-old dog in Pocatello, Idaho.  (The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office)

As was their routine, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield and his dog raced through the backyard of his Idaho home and up the top of a nearby hill to play. Minutes later, Canyon was knocked to the ground after a cyanide bomb set by the U.S. government detonated some 350 yards from the family’s doorstep.

Canyon watched as his 3-year-old golden Labrador, Casey, lay dying, suffocating from orange-colored cyanide sprayed by an M-44 device no one had told Canyon’s family about.

“We are devastated,” the boy’s mother, Theresa Mansfield, of Pocatello, Idaho, told Fox News on Tuesday. “My dog died in less than 2 minutes. My son was rushed to the hospital covered in cyanide.”

“We had no idea they were there,” Mansfield said of the device, which she described as resembling a sprinkler head.

The dog’s death on Thursday follows a string of other recent incidents in which family pets were accidentally killed by M-44s, a controversial device used by Wildlife Services, a little-known branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture tasked with destroying animals seen as threats to people, agriculture and the environment.

Critics, including Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., say the government’s taxpayer-funded Predator Control program and its killing methods are random — and at times, illegal.

“The recent death of dogs in Idaho and Wyoming are the latest unnecessary tragedies of USDA’s Wildlife Services use of M-44 cyanide traps,” DeFazio told Fox News. “These deadly traps have killed scores of domestic animals, and sooner or later, they will kill a human.”

“It’s time to stop subsidizing ranchers’ livestock protection efforts with taxpayer dollars and end the unchecked authority of Wildlife Services once and for all,” he said.

DeFazio’s office said the lawmaker plans to reintroduce a House bill this week that, if passed into law, would ban the use of the devices for predator control.

“These deadly traps have killed scores of domestic animals, and sooner or later, they will kill a human.”

– Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Mansfield’s home on Thursday with a bomb squad to investigate the incident. The family was immediately sent to a local emergency room to be screened for cyanide exposure.

The government claims the devices are not capable of killing a child. But Idaho authorities do not agree in the case of Canyon Mansfield, who weighs only 20 pounds more than his 80-pound dog.

“He’s very lucky to be alive,” Capt. Dan Argyle of the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office said of Canyon, whose blood is still being checked for levels of cyanide.

“We’re still trying to figure out how he wasn’t affected,” Argyle told Fox News. “We think a strong wind blew it [the cyanide] downhill when the device went off — right in the dog’s direction.”

Argyle said Wildlife Services is required by law to post warning signs around the devices but said, “We did not observe any signs at the location.” Upon further inspection, authorities found a second device within yards of the Mansfield home. Both devices were planted in the ground on Feb. 25 without the family’s knowledge or consent.

Days earlier, a family walking in an area 52 miles northwest of Casper, Wyo., lost two dogs from an M-44 that detonated near a hiking trail they have walked for 20 years.

Amy Helfrieck said she heard her husband yelling on March 12 as she was antler hunting with her 8-year-old daughter, sister and brother-in-law in a prairie filled with cedar trees and rock outcroppings.

When she turned her head, Helfrieck saw her husband carrying the couple’s dog, Abby, a 15-year-old Drahthaar — a breed similar to a German wire-haired dog — down a hill.

Helfrieck, a nurse, tried to pry open the dog’s mouth.

“She was having a lot of difficulty breathing and I knew at that time she was dying,” she said.

“What I didn’t realize was that we were exposing ourselves to a very deady poison,” Helfrieck said.

Her sister’s 7-year-old Weimaraner, Molly, also was killed by the sodium cyanide trap.

In this case, Helfrieck said there were markers at the site but they were placed only 5 feet from the actual trap.

The M-44s, also known as “coyote-getters,” are designed to lure animals with a smelly bait. When an animal tugs on the device, a spring-loaded metal cylinder fires sodium cyanide powder into its mouth.

Over the years, thousands of non-target animals — wild and domestic — have been mistakenly killed by the lethal devices.

On Saturday, The Oregonian reported that a gray wolf was accidentally killed by an M-44 on private land in Oregon’s Wallowa County. The wolf death was the first documented “incidental take” of its kind in the state involving a protected animal and an M-44, fish and wildlife officials told the newspaper.

Wildlife Services said it first learned of the Wyoming incident on Monday and denied any involvement in the deaths.

Lyndsay Cole, a spokeswoman for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, told Fox News the agency does not conduct predator control using those devices in Natrona County, where the incident occurred.

Cole, however, did confirm the “unintentional lethal take” of the Mansfield family dog in Idaho.

“As a program made up of individual employees, many of whom are pet owners, Wildlife Services understands the close bonds between people and their pets and sincerely regrets such losses,” she said, noting that the agency was “very concerned” about any human exposure to the sodium cyanide.

“Wildlife Services has removed M-44s from that area, and is completing a thorough review of the circumstances of this incident,” she said.

Cole called the accidental death of family pets from M-44s a “rare occurrence,” and said Wildlife Services posts signs and issues other warnings to alert pet owners when traps are placed near their homes. She also said these devices “are only set at the request of and with permission from property owners or managers.”

The Mansfields and other familes, however, said they had no knowledge the devices were anywhere near their homes and were not familiar with how they work.

Brooks Fahy, executive director of the national wildlife advocacy organization Predator Defense, has been working for decades to ban M-44s, calling them “nothing more than land mines waiting to go off, no matter if their victim is a child, a dog or a wolf.”

“Much of the public remains totally in the dark about the fact that these deadly devices are placed on private and public lands nationwide,” Fahy told Fox News. “M-44s are totally indiscriminate. Worse yet, they are unnecessary, as the majority of the animals killed have never preyed on livestock.”

Wildlife Services says it’s working to avoid future wolf harm

http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20170315/wildlife-services-says-its-working-to-avoid-future-wolf-harm

Activists are harshly critical of the M-44 cyanide devices, which they say are extremely dangerous and kill indiscriminately.
by Eric MortensonCapital Press

Published on March 15, 2017 11:07AM

The state director for USDA Wildlife Services in Oregon said the agency has removed M-44 cyanide poison traps from “areas of immediate concern” following the unintended poisoning of a wolf in Wallowa County in February.

Director Dave Williams said Wildlife Services has reviewed what happened and shared that information with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which manages wolves in the state. The two agencies are in ongoing discussions about how to prevent another wolf death, Williams said.

“We don’t feel good about that,” he said.

Williams said Wildlife Services has removed M-44s from areas identified by ODFW as places wolves are present. ODFW officials confirmed that took place.

“We appreciate that Wildlife Services has voluntarily removed M-44s,” ODFW Wildlife Division Administrator Doug Cottam said in a prepared statement.

“We also recognize we want to increase our communication between our agencies,” he said. “We want to develop a more effective system to ensure that Wildlife Services’ staff working in areas with wolves know what ODFW knows about wolf activity.”

OR-48, a 100-pound male from the Shamrock Pack, died Feb. 26 after it bit an M-44 device, which fires cyanide powder into a predator’s mouth when it tugs on a baited or scented capsule holder. Wildlife Services set the trap on private land in an attempt to kill coyotes.

The federal agency kills predators or other wildlife that damage or pose a threat to property, livestock or humans. The agency describes M-44s as an “effective and environmentally sound wildlife damage management tool,” but the wildlife activist group Predator Defense calls them notoriously dangerous.

The devices are designed to kill canids such as coyotes and foxes. The cyanide powder reacts with saliva in an animal’s mouth, forming a poisonous gas that kills the animal within one to five minutes. Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, said M-44s indiscriminately kill dogs attracted by the scent and are a hazard to children or others who might come across them in rural areas.

The Wallowa County incident is complicated by Oregon’s management and protection of gray wolves over the past decade as they entered the state from Idaho, formed packs, quickly grew in population and spread geographically.

Previously, Wildlife Services did not use M-44s in what the state designated as Areas of Known Wolf Activity. After wolves were taken off the state endangered species list in 2015, it was ODFW’s understanding that Wildlife Services would continue to avoid using M-44s in such areas.

“We discussed our concerns specifically regarding M-44s,” ODFW spokesman Rick Hargrave said last week. “We didn’t want those devices in those areas.

“We believed it was clear what our concerns were,” Hargrave said.

Williams, the Wildlife Services state director, said he wants to focus on preventing another wolf death rather than “who messed up here.”

He said the Wallowa County case was the first time the agency has killed a wolf in Oregon. Overall, the agency has recorded “lethal take” of “non-targeted” animals — ones it didn’t intend to kill — in 1.3 percent of cases, he said. He said the agency twice unintentionally caught Oregon wolves in foothold traps, which nonetheless allowed ODFW to put tracking collars on them before releasing them unharmed.

“Some of our tools are more forgiving than others,” Williams said.

He said Wildlife Services puts on workshops to help ranchers protect livestock with non-lethal methods. In one case two summers ago, agency personnel spent 260 hours over four weeks helping protect a sheep flock from Umatilla Pack wolves, he said. The work allowed ODFW to avoid having to kill wolves due to depredations, he said.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association views the Wallowa County incident as a matter of agency to agency interaction and is “staying on the sidelines” in the investigation, said Todd Nash, a Wallowa County rancher who is the group’s wolf policy chair. Livestock producers, of course, have a keen interest in the state’s wolf management policies and outcomes.

“It’s never a good time politically to have a dead wolf,” Nash said.

Wyoming Families Grieving Two Dogs Killed by Unmarked M-44 “Cyanide Bomb”

http://www.predatordefense.org/features/m44_WY_Amy_dogs.htm

Out for a walk on public land, they lost their beloved dogs from an unmarked wildlife poison ejector while an 8-year-old girl watched

Amy's dogs Abby and VitaAmy’s dog Abby (right) died a
horrific death while her extended
family tried to save her.

 

WARNING: The story below is tragic and deeply disturing. We share it because we firmly believe wildlife poisons like the sodium cyanide in M-44s must be banned. We have been working since 1990 to do just that, and are optimistic that new legislation we’ve been working on will soon be introduced in Congress.

 

— On March 11, 2017, a Wyoming nurse named Amy went out for a day trip with her family to enjoy a walk on the Wyoming prairie about 50 miles northwest of Casper. They had been to the particular spot many times before to antler hunt, let their dogs get exercise, climb on the beautiful asymmetric sandstone rock outcroppings, and have lunch together.

Amy’s companions on this beautiful pre-spring morning included her husband, her 8-year old daughter, and their two Drahthaar dogs—Abby and Vita. Amy’s sister and brother-in-law also came along for the adventure and brought their two Weimaraners—Molly and Stella. Molly was a rescue dog from Colorado, the third rescue Amy’s sister had the privilege of adding to their family. She and her husband had not had children, and had dedicated their lives to their dogs.

Their destination was public land. They were aware of private land in the area and very much respected landowners rights, but they had studied the map and were not worried about entering private land because it was further than they planned on going. After leaving the highway, they crossed many cattle guards. Towards the end they drove through a closed gate, which they reclosed to keep any potential livestock contained. They then drove approximately 1/4 of a mile to where they had parked many times before. They paid careful attention for cyanide trap signs because they had their beloved dogs with them, and Amy’s young daughter, Roxy Marie.

They walked for a few hours, looking for antlers, climbing on the rocks, and taking pictures. Then they headed back to the truck to have lunch while the dogs stayed close exploring the prairie. After lunch they decided to walk a different way, returning after about an hour and a half to where they had stopped before lunch. At one point Amy’s husband was a little ways away and she thought she heard him hollering at the dogs to come closer.

That’s when the horror began. She looked up saw him running down a hill holding their 15-year-old dog Abby. Abby had cataracts and Amy assumed she had fallen off of an edge or large rock and hurt her legs. She asked what happened and her husband yelled in a loud panicked voice that the dogs had gotten into a cyanide trap. Amy could not believe what was happening. They ran to a nearby creek to try and help Abby by washing her face and mouth out. Amy tried to pry Abby’s mouth open but her jaw was clenched too tightly.

They were unaware of the magnitude of what just happened. They could hear she was having difficulty breathing and was unable to stand and her eyes were fixed looking straight ahead.

Before they got to the water Amy looked up the hill and saw her brother-in-law carrying his 7-year-old Weimaraner Molly. She said she felt like they were in a war zone. Her husband yelled for her to get the other two dogs and to keep them close.

By the time they got Abby to the creek they knew that trying to wash the cyanide out of her body was not working and she was dying. Amy glanced up towards the bank of the creek and saw her sister and brother-in-law carrying Molly by her feet, upside-down. No one could believe this was happening to them.

Abby’s breathing continued to get worse. Amy’s family petted Abby and kissed her face while telling her they loved her, wanting to show her as much love as they could to ease her dying. In retrospect they realized they were exposing themselves to the cyanide that had sprayed on Abby’s face and was going to be the cause of her death.

Amy walked a few steps over to her sister and brother-in-law where they had Molly lying. Amy’s brother-in-law was on his knees with his forehead resting close to Molly’s face and he was sobbing. Molly was not breathing, she was gone. They all kissed her and told her how much they loved her, again exposing themselves to the deadly cyanide.

Amy walked back over to Abby. Her husband was holding her and they hear the last few gasping breaths of their sweet dog, Abby was now gone. They were all crying, Roxie Marie was sobbing, and the two dogs that were still alive kept coming over and smelling their companions. This was the worst, saddest, and most traumatic day they had ever been through. They sat there holding their dead dogs for some time in disbelief. Amy said she remembers thinking “This is complete, unnecessary horror.”

The group needed to get the dogs that were still alive back to the truck immediately to keep them safe and alive. Amy took Vita by the collar and began walking back to the truck with Roxy Marie and her husband. Her sister took Stella by the collar and followed. Before putting the dogs in the back, Amy’s husband went to his tool box and got two shovels. She realized at that time that they were going home with only two of their beloved dogs. Amy’s husband walked back over to where the dogs had died, where her brother-in-law had stayed.

“We decided to bury our beloved dogs together because in their world they are cousins,” Amy said. “We couldn’t take them home with us for cremation because we did not want to harm the dogs that we still had alive.”

We will let Amy tell the rest of the story in her own words:

“Some time passed…it seemed like an eternity,” Amy said. “Then we saw the two of them walking on top of the cedar ridge. They each had a shovel in their hands resting on their shoulders. My sister and I broke down. I guess we were still in disbelief and hoping to see two dogs following behind them. We stayed by the truck for a while all facing back where the dogs had been buried, crying and hugging. Then we all slowly got into the truck and drove out. This day has been hell.”

“Not a word was spoken on the long 50-mile drive home. All you could hear in the cab of the truck was crying and sniffling. I looked into the back of the truck through the window and saw Vita and Stella setting under the shell of the truck looking at us and I am sure wondering where their sister dogs were.”

“This is my story, and no matter how horrible it is for me to tell it I must do it. I don’t want anyone else to go through such horror. We love you and will miss you desperately Abby and Molly!”

 


 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Amy wanted us to add that at no time while being in the area did they see “private property” or “no trespassing” signs. After the tragedy they did more research and discovered there was a 10-15 acre section of private land in the area that is land-locked by public land. Using their GPS they found they had unknowingly entered that small section of private property by approximately 100 yards when their dogs found the cyanide traps.

Feds kill wolf in Wallowa County on private land with cyanide trap

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2017/03/feds_kill_wolf_in_wallowa_coun.html

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A male yearling from the Imnaha Pack was one of eight Oregon gray wolves collared in 2013 by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The agency uses signals from wolves’ collars to track their dispersal throughout the state. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife photo) (ODFW)

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on March 02, 2017 at 4:36 PM, updated March 02, 2017 at 4:57 PM

A gray wolf was killed on private land in Wallowa County by a controversial cyanide device used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wildlife officials confirmed Thursday.

The male, 100-pound wolf was a member of the Shamrock Pack in northeast Oregon and believed to be less than 2 years old. Officials had just placed a tracking collar on the animal Feb. 10. The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and the USDA acknowledged Sunday’s “unintentional” killing in a news release.

According to Thursday’s statement, the federal government’s Wildlife Services division was using a cyanide device known as an M-44 to kill coyotes in the area and “prevent coyote-livestock conflict” on the private property.

State officials say the wolf’s death is believed to be the first in Oregon connected to an M-44. The controversial tool is a spring-activated device that is typically smeared with scented bait, then shoots poison into the animal’s mouth when it tugs on the trap.

Oregon removed the gray wolf from its Endangered Species List in November 2015. According to the state’s estimate that year, Oregon is home to at least 110 wolves in more than a dozen packs.

Gov. Kate Brown’s recommended budget doesn’t include $460,000 typically set aside to pay the federal agency to kill animals in Oregon. Brown’s office declined to issue a statement Thursday and deferred to state wildlife officials.

“It’s a pretty sad situation,” Rick Hargrave, an ODFW spokesman, said of the wolf’s death. “We don’t want this to happen.” Wolf OR48 was believed to be one of six members of the Shamrock Pack, according to the 2015 report.

Federal officials are reviewing the death and said in a statement that they would “see if any changes to our procedures are necessary.”

An agency spokesman hadn’t responded to a list of questions via email late Thursday.

But the killing prompted outrage in the conservation community and from one member of Oregon’s congressional delegation.

“I have been trying to ban the indiscriminate use of devices like the M-44 for decades,” U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio said in a statement to The Oregonian/OregonLive. “The use of this device by Wildlife Services led to the death of an innocent wolf, has previously killed domestic dogs, and sooner or later, will kill a child.”

DeFazio introduced a bill in 2012 to ban the M-44, which has been used to kill thousands of animals. According to the government’s website, some 383 wolves have been killed in eight states by the agency.

“The federal government should not be using these extreme measures,” DeFazio said. “It’s time to stop subsidizing ranchers’ livestock protection efforts with taxpayer dollars and end the unchecked authority of Wildlife Services once and for all.”

Brooks Fahy, executive director of the Eugene-based nonprofit Predator Defense, said he was not surprised to learn an M-44 had killed a wolf in Oregon.

He also doubted that the wolf’s death was the first in Oregon.

“Besides putting wolves and non-target species at risk,” he said, “they also put domestic pets and people at risk. They’re extraordinarily dangerous.”

He also described the incident as “troubling.”

“This will not be the last time as long as M44s are allowed,” he said.

Hargrave, the state official, said M-44s were forbidden in areas where wolves are known to roam when the animals were listed under the state’s endangered species act.

According to a state permit document outlining situations in which a wolf could be accidentally killed – termed an “incidental take” – M-44s could “not be used in occupied wolf range.” Permit applicants also had to take broader protections, including prohibiting some traps or snares within three miles of known wolf territory.

Once wolves were removed from the endangered list in Oregon, Hargrave said, the state continued to discuss keeping those protections in place.

The animal killed Sunday was in an area known to be home to wolves.

 

‘Hog Apocalypse’: Texas has a new weapon in its war on feral pigs. It’s not pretty.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/02/23/hog-apocalypse-texas-has-a-new-weapon-in-its-war-on-feral-pigs-its-not-pretty/?utm_term=.01fdacb6c80b
                                                       _____________________
Best lines: Stephanie Bell, an animal-cruelty director for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a statement that feral hogs “should not be sentenced to death simply for trying to forage and feed their own families.” She noted correctly that feral boars were brought to the United States to be hunted for sport before they proliferated across Texas and other states.
                                                       _________________________
February 23 at 8:44 AM

Securing a Texan’s right to shoot wild pigs from a helicopter may have been Sid Miller’s best-known accomplishment before this week.

The state’s agricultural commissioner hangs a boar’s head and toy chopperoutside his office to remind people of the law he got passed, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

But Miller has never stopped searching for better ways to kill some 2 million feral hogs in Texas that the commissioner accuses of eating newborn lambs, uprooting crops and “entire city parks,” trampling across highways and causing more than $50 million in damage a year.

The search is over, Miller announced Tuesday: “The ‘Hog Apocalypse’ may finally be on the horizon.”

Miller said he would return his entire research budget to the state. He doesn’t need it anymore, he says, after finding “a new weapon in the long-standing war on the destructive feral hog population.”

It’s called warfarin: the pesticide with war in its name. Pigs eat it. It kills them slowly, often painfully, and turns their innards blue. It’s already wiped out swine herds in Australia, which later banned the product as inhumane.

The Environmental Protection Agency just approved it.

Hunters and wildlife experts, not so much.

More than 3,000 have signed the Texas Hog Hunters Association’s petition against Miller’s chemical war.

“If this hog is poisoned, do I want to feed it to my family?” the group’s vice president, Eydin Hansen, asked the Dallas CBS affiliate. “I can tell you, I don’t.”

Stephanie Bell, an animal-cruelty director for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a statement that feral hogs “should not be sentenced to death simply for trying to forage and feed their own families.” She noted correctly that feral boars were brought to the United States to be hunted for sport before they proliferated across Texas and other states.

Tyler Campbell, a former researcher with the U.S. Agriculture Department, led the agency’s feral-hog studies in Kingsville, Tex., for several years, when warfarin was first tested on pigs in the United States.

“It was fast-tracked,” he said.

The test results weren’t pretty, he said. Marketed as Kaput Feral Hog Bait, the product is comparable to rat poison — with similar effects.

“They bleed,” Campbell said. Internally and externally, usually for a week or more before they die.

Just as concerning, he said, were difficulties in preventing other species from eating the poison — which is known to paralyze chickens, make rats vomit and kill all manner of animals.

The EPA regulations — which Texas plans to strengthen by licensing warfarin’s use — requires hogs to be fed the poison out of bins with 10-pound lids.

The lid tactic won’t work, Campbell said. Before retiring from government research a few years ago, he saw a study in which raccoons lifted much heavier lids in search of food.

“The wildlife community at large has reasons to have concerns,” he said.

“We do have very serious concerns about non-target species,” state wildlife veterinarian Jim LaCour told the Times-Picayune.

Even if only hogs can get to the bait, LaCour said, “they’re going to drop crumbs on the outside.” Those crumbs might then be eaten by rodents, which might be eaten by birds, and thus warfarin could spread throughout the ecosystem.

People should be concerned too, LaCour said: Millions take low doses of warfarin, like Coumadin, to prevent blood clots. Ingesting more from poisoned game could be “very problematic,” he said.

Miller isn’t worried.

The commissioner’s office didn’t reply to requests for comment. But in a statement to the CBS station DFW, he said years of testing prove that other wildlife, or pets, “would have to ingest extremely large quantities over the course of several days” to get sick.

As for the hunters’ objections, Miller said a blue dye will make poisoned hogs obvious long before they reach the oven.

“If you want them gone, this will get them gone,” the commissioner told the Statesman.

As precedent, he pointed to Australia, where he said warfarin “was used for many years” on feral hogs.

It was — in experiments that concerned government officials so much they later banned its use on grounds of “extreme suffering.”

The poison was effective, granted. It proved as apocalyptic as Miller promises, taking just a few months to wipe out an estimated 99 percent of wild pigs in Sunny Corner State Forest during an experiment in 1987.

Other studies described poisoned hogs’ last days in explicit detail: Some were lucky; massive internal bleeding killed them quickly after they ate warfarin. Most suffered for a week or more — one pig for a full month before it died.

“Animals moved only if approached closely and spent most time lying in shelter,” researchers wrote in Australian Wildlife Research in 1990.

Some leaked blood from their eyes or anuses. Many bled internally — sometimes into their joints, causing severe pain. An autopsy revealed one pig’s liver had fused to its stomach.

Being shot from a helicopter, the Australian government concluded, was objectively less cruel.

OR man poisons wolves

http://www.mtexpress.com/news/environment/man-pleads-guilty-to-wolf-poisoning/article_6a23a02a-9197-11e6-9c69-33ba6422ac80.html

Oct 14, 2016
    A central Oregon resident has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to placing poison on a deer carcass in the Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness that caused the death of a wolf and a dog.
According to a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Tim Clemens entered a guilty plea Tuesday, Oct. 4, to one count of poisoning animals and one count of unlawful take of big game.
    Fourth District Magistrate Lamont Berecz sentenced Clemens to 10 days in jail, 200 hours of community service in lieu of an additional 20 days in jail, and four years of probation, during which time he cannot hunt. The court also ordered Clemens to pay $675 in fines, court costs and community service insurance, $400 in civil damages for the big game animal killed and $10,000 in restitution to Idaho Fish and Game for investigative costs.
    Fish and Game reported that the charges were the result of an investigation launched in January after conservation officers received a citizen report that two dogs had been poisoned in the Brush Creek drainage of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River during the previous fall hunting season. Brush Creek flows into the lower Middle Fork from the west at the Flying B Ranch.
    A veterinarian confirmed that one dog had died from poisoning and a second dog had survived after treatment for poison symptoms. Interviews of the dogs’ owner and others tied the incident to a field-dressed deer carcass.
    After winter snows receded, Fish and Game officers were able to access the remote area to gather evidence. Sample results from a wolf carcass that the officers found near the site confirmed that it had ingested poison, and sample results from the poisoned dog matched the deer carcass.
    Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler said in an interview that investigators were able to work with people who knew where animals had been killed by hunters in that area.
“[The investigators] were able to find the various kill sites and take samples,” Keckler said.
Valley County Prosecutor Carol Brockmann stated that the complex investigation involved multiple interviews in two states and close cooperation between the prosecution and Fish and Game.
    According to the news release, Clemens admitted to Fish and Game that he put a small amount of poison on the carcass of the deer he had killed after the meat was removed.
    “We don’t know what he was targeting,” Keckler said.
    Pursuant to a plea agreement, the court granted a withheld judgment. A withheld judgment means that after completing his sentence and probation, Clemens may ask the court to dismiss the charges against him, removing them from his criminal record.
copyrighted wolf in water